BRUSSELS, 28 September 2021

Pharma.Aero Shares Lean Logistics for Vaccines Distribution showcasing Uruguay’s Logistics Model

Uruguay has developed an innovative COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy “Lean Logistics for Vaccines”, that reduces the delivery time of vaccine shipments from port to patient to only 10 hours, saving at least a day in the supply chain. Despite being the last South American country to kick-start the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Uruguay had vaccinated more than 70% of the population in less than six months, making this strategy a successful case study in the industry.

Pharma.Aero is privileged to be part of the project, together with the project team in Uruguay.  Throughout the project, a multidisciplinary team comprising from the public and the private sectors in Uruguay were brought together and contributed to the development of the innovative and integrated distribution strategy. Carrasco International Airport (Montevideo, Uruguay) played a decisive role in the preparation, storage and distribution of the vaccines straight to the vaccination centers all over the country, through its Pharma HUB facility. The positioning of the airport as a key distribution center not only resulted in time savings, but also created a secured and efficient centralization of the vaccine inventory management, as well as provided greater flexibility and reliability to the country’s vaccination campaign.

Minister of Public Health of Uruguay, Dr. Daniel Salinas, said positively, “It was a wise move to choose the airport for the storage and handling of the COVID-19 vaccines, which require ultra-cold conditions. It has allowed for quick implementation and avoided cold chain failures.”

“Using the airport as a center for storage, preparation and direct distribution of the ultra-cold COVID-19 vaccines is an innovative approach. We are very proud to be working alongside with both the public and private sectors in Uruguay for this humanitarian project”, said Eng. Bruno Guella, Managing Director – Cargo (Carrasco International Airport).

The information system integration of different entities involved in the supply chain was essential for the planning, executing and managing of the COVID-19 vaccines distribution. One of the lessons learned by the team in Uruguay is that the integration of information systems is vital and should be developed at an early stage to allow for better planning and visibility.

The flexibility of the operations design helped us adapt the plan as new challenges arouse. In addition, the inter-institutional collaboration was pivotal in reducing inefficiencies, margin of error and lead times. This was key to the success of our vaccination plan”, said Lic. Jose Luis Satdjian, Vice-Minister of Public Health of Uruguay.

Overall, the vaccine distribution strategy “Lean Logistics for Vaccines” has been successful, meeting the supply chain requirements, especially in preserving the cold and the ultra-cold chain.

The white paper can be accessed here.

About Pharma.Aero:

Pharma.Aero, a non-profit organization with its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, aims to achieve excellence in reliable end-to-end air transportation for Life Science and Medtech shippers, by fostering collaboration between CEIV certified airport communities dedicated in developing and pioneering when it comes to handling, storage and air transportation of pharmaceuticals.

Pharma.Aero brings added value for the shipper by placing them as strategic priorities of Pharma.Aero, providing insights into the capabilities of the air cargo industry, as well as facilitating direct collaboration with the different air cargo stakeholders in the supply chain. Together, the organisation focuses on collaborative and continuous improvement of the Life Science and Medtech air cargo supply chain.

Pharma.Aero is an organisation that is proud to walk the talk. Jointly with our members, we co-ideate and co-develop projects that focus on end-to-end supply chain visibility solutions and address air transportation issues and challenges faced by the Life Science and Medtech industry. Since its inception in 2016, Pharma.Aero initiated and completed six projects. Consequently, technical papers for our members and white papers for the entire industry were published.

About Carrasco International Airport:

It is the main international airport of Uruguay, and operates 100% of Uruguay’s international trade transported via air. It is operated by Corporación America, one of the largest airport operators in the world with a network of over 50 airports across 3 continents. In addition, through MVD Free Airport, its cargo business unit, it operates the only airport free zone in South America providing value-added logistics services for a smarter, safer and leaner distribution to the region. Its Pharma Hub was designed to meet the quality and safety standards required by the pharmaceutical industry. Currently operates as a regional HUB for several global pharma players, and was chosen by the Uruguayan Government Authorities to host the country’s vaccines storage, handling and distribution.


For further contact

Frank Van Gelder, Secretary General
Pharma.Aero VZW

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